Soma man backpedals, says PM Erdoğan did not slap him, but protected him

Soma man backpedals, says PM Erdoğan did not slap him, but protected him

Soma man backpedals, says PM Erdoğan did not slap him, but protected him

Taner Kurucafirst said Erdoğan slapped him “involuntarily” during a scuffle in a supermarket.

The man who was allegedly slapped by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a visit in the wake of the tragic mine disaster in the town now says the gesture was, in fact, intended to protect him from the bodyguards.

Taner Kuruca, who first said Erdoğan slapped him “involuntarily” during a scuffle in a supermarket after footage circulated on the Internet May 14, has retracted his previous statement.

“I didn’t notice at first that our prime minister extended his hand to protect me from the bodyguards. At that moment I thought that someone was slapping me. However, the person who was slapping me was not our prime minister, but his bodyguard,” Kuruca said, apologizing to Erdoğan.

He explained his opinion about the whole incident changed once he watched the recordings, denouncing being put “under psychological pressure.”

“I identified [the bodyguard] after watching the images shot from inside. Then I understood what happened and I felt sorry, wishing to not have previously said that the prime minister had slapped me,” Kuruca said, even claiming he would have acted similarly if he were the prime minister’s bodyguard.

“His bodyguards intervened, but they did it for the sake of protecting the prime minister from whoever was there,” Kuruca said.

He also rejected claims that Erdoğan had called him a slur, slamming an attempt of “montage.” “I don’t believe that our prime minister would have insulted me at all.”

The footage shows Erdoğan quickly entering a supermarket with his bodyguards during his eventful visit to Soma on May 14, after facing protests following making a press statement.

During the scuffle, Erdoğan apparently grabbed Kuruca by his neck and asked him “where he was running to?” if he was not calling him to step down.

But speaking to journalists following the incident, Kuruca had denied that he was among the protesters who booed Erdoğan and said he was just a regular customer at the supermarket.

“I was not one of the protesters. I came face to face with the prime minister. As his bodyguards started pushing, the prime minister unfortunately did something involuntarily and slapped me while I was walking backwards, because he was angry at the crowd and couldn’t control himself,” Kuruca had said.

Other compromising footage emerged from Erdoğan’s visit, including one showing him saying “If you boo the prime minister of this country, you will get slapped,” to a protester.

Meanwhile, one of his young advisers, Yusuf Yerkel, was photographed while kicking a mourner who was being held by two members of Special Forces.